Back Door Options

We met with our Historic Society last night to make a decision on a back door style. The society advocates for door restoration if possible and some situations replacement. My door was not salvageable (dry walls screws hold it together) and not really appropriate for my house.

A plank style door (below) like we found in our Beverly Jog would have been more typical of 1750. Our addition is not original to the main house so that’s why we have a weirdo door.

The society asked me to bring in three different door styles as options. I decided not to include the Dutch door because even though I love it; I realized if I had the door open my indoor cat would be able to jump out. I could probably lock him in a room while we have the door open but that sounds completely impractical and kinda cruel.

Words like “simple, feels like a back door, this options looks too much like a french door”, came up while the board discussed the different styles. In the end a nine-light with two vertical panels was picked. The door has to be wood and the windows true divided light. Meaning they must be individual single-paned windows. I was happy they choose an option with windows because I had fears they would ask me to use a solid paneled door. Yay for light in my someday kitchen! We didn’t get into hardware but I assume they would prefer I choose something simple and not go over-the-top. The door should be considered an utilitarian piece and not be treated like a decorative front door was the feeling I got from the board in the meeting.

Above are options from wood door manufacturer Simpson, I showed at the meeting. New wood doors aren’t solid wood. They are veneered with a wood core. Solid wood doors can twist and warp but my local lumber yard suggested veneered doors are bomb proof and will never twist an inch.

So now we need to decide if want to get a new door or try searching for an old solid wood door in the 9-light style. Greg and I both have fears of the new door looking too perfect. But new doors have the advantage of coming as a complete kit with the door jam and threshold—all the measuring is done for you! Below a solid wood 9-light Old House Parts sent me. I’ll report back with our findings…

Our current back door in all its glory, plexi glass windows and trim held in with dry wall screws. The hinge have been mortised at least 3 times because the screws ripped out of the door, the hardware is purely decorative, that door couldn’t keep the wind or a “ham” burglar out. -G

This is the plank door we found behind a wall and shingled over in the Beverly Jog.

An old solid wood 9-light door Old House Parts in Kennebunk, Maine sent me as a potential option.

Related Posts:
Dutch Doors
Back Door Search Begins
Beverly Jog

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  1. Oh! Jeez. It’s only getting colder out. I hope they do a good job for you. You guys deserve to have a good experience. I’m crossing my fingers that this huge job goes smoothly and is done correctly!


  2. Wendy!

    The trim work is done but they haven’t started the roof. Deposits have been made but the cold weather and rain has backed everything up. Hopefully this week? I have to write a post about all our lovely new trim and gutters too!


  3. I would select a door that will let in as much light or maybe just slightly more than your old door. Otherwise you might feel the room is too dark once the new door is in. We replaced our back basement door and used that idea as a guide. We’re happy. Our front door and the two french doors to our sunroom are original. We were able to have them stripped and repared at a place in town, they were in pretty good condition though. We had them refinished with a dark stain. They look amazing. It was nice just being able to drop them off with their many gross coverings of paint and then pick them up looking perfect! I wish all parts of home restoration could be so easy.


  4. Katy, I recommend checking out some architectural salvage shops or antique shops. I am a Historic Preservationist in Indiana. I know back home in Michigan there is one antique shop that has a whole room full of doors. Obviously, that shop is too far away, but as an example. Perhaps there are good shops around you. Best of luck!


  5. Katy, that is fascinating! Amazing about George Washington and the Mason Hall. The whole town looks beautiful.

    Say — a friend of a friend has a late 1700s-early 1800s house in the Berkshires and some real estate friend of hers told her it isn’t worth anything and should be torn down. It’s in excellent condition.

    That can’t be right, right? Aren’t Colonial and Federal houses somewhat sought after by people who appreciate them?


  6. Suddenly a song came over me : Looking out my back door, Creedence clearwatwr revival. And I think : You can’t look out from the two panel, the 12 panel is too much outlook (and in), but the 9 panel is right :) I would go for the 9 panel :P


  7. mopar-
    My overall feeling from the historic society is that they want it all to “feel” similar to the main building.

    Why did I put that in those quotes? Because it seems to be on a case-by-case basis. Depending on where you live in old town. It seems some houses they’re bigger sticklers then others. My house is next door to the first Mason Meeting Hall. George Washington supposedly slept there. So they are a little picky about my house since it’s so close in proximity.

    Don’t know if that answered your question but I guess I’m still unsure of the date the historic society would like me to renovating to? Maybe it’s just an overall feeling?


  8. These all look nice. Your existing back door appears to date from about 1890, judging from the style and proportions.

    Re the historic society: Isn’t the goal to match the age and style of the extension, rather than the oldest part of the house? My friend who is taking restoration classes constantly hears “Do not introduce false historical narratives.” LOL.


  9. I can’t believe all you have to go through with the historical group–seems invasive. I like the 9 panes over the 2 panels. We put one like that on our house last year. A new door with the frame with save you much gnashing of teeth. Your blog is a lot of fun to follow but I find at times painful as it brings to mind the restorations/fix ups I’ve lived through. Tons of work!


  10. another homeowner was there to change out his front door with an identical version claiming the current door is to far gone… I kinda liked it, I may stop by to grab it out of his trash. A little epoxy can “fix” anything.


  11. Your historical commission sounds MUCH more involved than mine. Here in Springfield, my experience has been that the homeowner proposes something and they say yay or nay and if it’s nay, the homeowner/contractor/architect goes back to the drawing board. I’ve never heard of them being so involved in anything that’s not a major undertaking. Sheesh.

    I heartily suggest the two salvage yards here in Springfield — Re-Store (who would probably look and see if they have something if you call them with the dimensions) and Associated Wreckers who probably wouldn’t search for anything for you, but who have train cars of houseparts (like say, three train cars of just doors, three or four of just toilets, etc.) the place is huge and possibly worth the trip.


  12. I’m still amazed at how involved the process is with the historic society, but I guess it is essential to preserve the community. I must visit Marblehead someday soon!